Scott Steiner gave his back to the sport. He took his injured body & created a successful character. A hellaciously successful reinvention (easier said than done) in order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing business. Big Poppa Pump was a massively muscled, unhinged, vocal, unpredictable, badass, ladies man. The persona quickly elevated Scott to main event status & eventually the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
In April 1998, Scott out found that years of his high-impact wrestling style had severely injured his lower back – ruptured discs to be precise. Back in the ring by September 1998, Scott later suffered an injury in May 1999 which required 3 screws to be put in his shoulder. To aid the recovery process he was required to wear a brace causing him to lean to the left which re-aggravated the ruptured discs. Scott tried every other option, but the pain kept coming back, so he opted for surgery.
“I had 3 ruptured discs, So, they went in & took out the bone fragments that were pushing on the nerve. They were actually so big, the doctor had to cut them in half to get them out of my body. I couldn’t stand up straight. My spine looked like I had scoliosis. It’s the way my body was trying to keep itself out of pain, you know? Right after surgery I couldn’t walk. Two or three feet & I felt like my knees were going to explode. It was a hard trip, man. Yeah, I really thought I was done. I was lucky I came back.” – Scott Steiner [Scoops Wrestling – Sep 2000]
A misconception that still exists today is that when Scott bleached his hair & became more muscular; he was bigger than ever & could barley move – which isn’t remotely true. Scott was at his biggest in 1996/1997 & actually lost weight when he became Big Poppa Pump to take the pressure of his back. Consequently he became more lean which resulted in him getting more ripped & give the illusion he was bigger than ever.
“I weigh 265 now, & I used to weigh around 280. I changed my diet, cut down on the carbohydrates. I’m on a really strict diet, which makes you leaner & makes your muscles stick out more. I had to get my upper body lighter just to take the pressure off my back since I had some back problems. I’m a lot leaner, & I feel a lot better.” – Scott Steiner [Wrestling Digest – Oct 2000]
Scott moved fine, he simply adopted a slower power based ring style & chose to work smarter not harder; by relying more on his personality to work the crowd, thus reducing the punishment on his body (prolonging his career in process). A true heel, Scott did everything in his power to be hated including eliminating manoeuvres that would elicit cheers from the audience. Scott’s mobility didn’t really decrease until his WWE run due to drop foot.
“I’d like anybody to try & wrestle with one foot. If I moved my foot it would just flop uncontrollably. I had total paralysis down there. It causes pain up your legs & in your hips. It was hard. I was actually going to retire; I did not want to go up [to WWE]. But they offered me more money than I was asking for, so I took it, thinking that they would want to do business.” – Scott Steiner [Ring Posts – May 2008]
PWT0rch [4th Nov 2000]
Scott Steiner vs. Booker T was acceptably entertaining. It wasn’t a match of the year contender, but it was very watchable. Steiner dominated the match & took very few bumps, but carries himself in a way where you can’t help but be glued to the screen.
PWT0rch [2nd Dec 2000]
The transformation Scott Steiner has undergone over the past couple of years has been amazing. His promos are some of the best in the business, & his workrate has actually improved as his injuries have worsened. Steiner is WCW’s fastest rising star since Goldberg. His unpredictability on camera is similar to that of Steve Austin during the peak of “Stone Cold mania”.
PWT0rch [3rd Mar 2001]
2001 PWTorch WCW Roster Rankings – Scott Steiner (#1): Having rehabbed his back enough to wrestle again, he has become WCW’s main attraction. The genetic freak has a unique look with his incredible muscles & a believable aura that says “I might snap at any second.” He is a rare wrestler who doesn’t seem to be acting or if he is, it’s difficult to tell how much. He’s new to main events but is in his late 30’s & has a bad back. He isn’t a wrestler to build the future around. He is a great wrestler to use as a centerpiece to try to build new stars because Steiner, if used right could be a star-maker. Anybody who beats Steiner is going to be perceived as one tough dude. Anybody Steiner gives props to is considered legit. Steiner has street cred & is entertaining. If dropped into the WWF mix, he wouldn’t be a threat to Rock, Austin or HHH, but all three could have compelling feuds with him. WCW needs somebody whom fans see as being on the level of WWF’s top tier & Steiner is that wrestler. He is also WCW’s own having never been a singles star in the WWF. He doesn’t seem like a rehash or a burnout.